Posted by: Christine | July 1, 2012

Canadian Bomber Boy

Last week a Memorial was unveiled by the Queen, to recognize the sacrifice made by the men of Bomber Command during WWII. It is only recently that I discovered that a member of my family was amongst these brave men.

A few weeks ago a friend was visiting Newark Air Museum  and noticed a Madder on a memorial board to those airmen who had trained at No 4 School of Technical Training during WWII.

Just above the plane’s wing is listed 19690 FO Madder D.F.C. Searching the internet with this information, I found an entry for William Joseph Madder on the website of the Air Force Association of Canada. He turned out to be a close relative.

The story starts in 1874 when George William Madder emigrated to Canada. He was the brother of my great-grandfather, Henry Madder. George William, known as William, settled in Brandon, Manitoba and had a large family.

William Madder and his family.

He must have sent back news to his brother in Chelmsford about the good life in Canada, because in the early years of the twentieth century, several of Henry’s children also went out to Canada. However some of them were to return to Europe when they signed up to fight in WWI.

Harold Randolph Madder (born 1885) signed up in December 1917. He survived.

Percy Frederick Madder (born 1890) signed up in December 1915. He was wounded at Passchendaele but survived.

Joseph Wilfred (born 1893) signed up in April 1916. He died at Aulnoy, near Valenciennes in Northern France on 1st November 1918, ten days before the war ended. He was killed, not while fighting, but tending the wounded. I have visited his grave.

Joseph Wilfred Madder in CEF Burial Registers (Ancestry)

One of William’s sons, Edward Beeching Madder, also fought and survived. Canadian WWI records can be obtained from Canadian Archives. Attestation papers can be seen online and copies of the full file can be ordered.

Percy Frederick, discharged due to “Weakness Rt shoulder”, returned to Canada, where he married Florence Sarah Bowles in July 1919. In 1920 their son William Joseph Madder was born in Brandon. This was the “Bomber Boy”, perhaps named Joseph after his uncle who had died two years earlier.

William Joseph, aged only 19, enlisted  in Winnipeg on 16 May 1940 as an Airframe Mechanic. He went to Technical Training School and rose up the ranks. In May 1942 he was sent overseas to the RAF and promoted to Sergeant in October. He became Flight Sergeant in 1943 and commissioned in January 1944. He was promoted to Flying Officer in July 1944. In November 1944 he was repatriated to Canada, having flown 55 sorties (273 hours 54 minutes) in two tours. He then attended Navigation School and in October 1945, the war having ended, he was retired.

He served with 405 Squadron RCAF. In 1942 this squadron had taken part in the 1.000-bomber raid on Cologne and in November flew anti-submarine patrols in the Bay of Biscay during the North African landings. William Joseph’s first flight was on 8th January 1943 and by 13th May he had flown 32 missions, mostly over Germany. His second tour, just after the Allied invasion of Normandy, was from 27th June to 20th September 1944, mostly over France. This at a time when the chances of being shot down were one in twenty. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in December 1944.

Page from London Gazette, listing William Joseph Madder’s D.F.C.

A quotation on the Air Force Association website states:
Flying Officer Madder is a very efficient, keen Flight Engineer, now on his second tour of operations. He has participated in many sorties against such heavily defended German targets as Berlin, Dusseldorf and Hamburg. Invariably, this officer has display a high degree of courage and devotion to duty, even under the most adverse circumstances, thereby setting an inspiring example to all members of his crew. Undoubtedly, the fine fighting spirit evinced by Flying Officer Madder, along with his superior technical knowledge and how to apply it, has contributed in no small way to the operational successes attained by his crew.

He was my father’s first cousin and until a few weeks ago I had never even heard of him.

This Blog is in memory of all my Canadian Madder relatives, who fought in both World Wars.


  1. Joe Madder was my maternal grandfather. He passed away on June 4 1977. I was almost 6 years old at the time. He is survived by 2 sons and 2 daughters as well as 7 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. His mother Florence or “nana” as she was known to everyone , lived until the age of 101 until her death on February 25 1997. His wife June passed away on May 16 1989.

    • Thank you for this extra information about Joe’s family. If you want to get in touch to discuss more about our mutual family, you can contact me via my website

      • I will pass your website on to my mother as she is more familiar with the family history. Her older brother Bill knows a lot as well so he may also be in touch with you. All the best…

  2. I believe Joseph Wilfred Madder is listed on the Cenotaph memorial in Douglas MB which is not far from Brandon. He was in the same Battalion as our Uncle Harry Faggetter. The Cenotaph is maintained by the local people of this small village in MB. There is a written history of Douglas MB called “echoes of a Century 1882 to 1982” and on pages 219 to 223 there are histories for some Madder families of the area. Today is November 1, 2018, 100 years later. We too have visited the graves in Valenciennes (in 2014).

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